Strawberry Fields Forever? Thanks to Fungicides

Strawberry Yields: UK

Strawberry Yields: UK

Strawberry cultivation in the UK reached 13000 hectares by 1924. While the area today is just one-third of the 1924 area, strawberry production has more than doubled due to yield per hectare increasing 5-6 fold. A major factor in increased strawberry yields in the UK has been the increased use and variety of fungicides used.

“The second productivist practice was the increased use of plant protection products from the 1960s. In 1965, up to 11% of the strawberry crops were not sprayed with pesticides; this figure had decreased to less than 2% by 2006. The spray area for fungicides also increased, from 6058 ha in 1965 to 45,960 ha in 2006. This is higher than the area of land cultivated for strawberries since it takes into account multiple sprays per season. The increased use of pesticides during this phase contributed to increasing yields, by decreasing disease pressure. This also had an impact on reducing yearly variations in yield, as pesticides enabled growers to reduce the impact of weather on their crop by reducing disease incidence.”

Authors: Calleja, E. J., et al.
Affiliation: University of Warwick, UK.
Title: Agricultural change and the rise of the British strawberry industry, 1920-2009.
Source: Journal of Rural Studies. 2012. 28:603-611.

Organic Cocoa Growers Likely to Switch to Conventional Production if Financing of Inputs is Made Available

Weedy Cocoa: Ghana

Weeding Cocoa: Ghana

There are very few certified organic cocoa growers in Africa. The risks of trying to grow an organic crop are great. Many of these growers choose to grow organically because they lack financial resources to purchase inputs including pesticides. With financing of inputs, many of the current organic growers are likely to switch to use of conventional methods with pesticides due to greater yields, income and less risk.

“…the total market share of organically grown cocoa is still relatively very small and accounted for less than 0.5% of the total production in 2002 to 2005.

For producers who cannot afford inorganic inputs and who currently grow organic cocoa, there is a large amount of risk (both in price and in yield) involved with an estimated 30% lower yield compared with conventional (inorganic) production.

The obvious challenge for producers to produce conventionally is to obtain credit up front to purchase inorganic inputs. Given the advent of organizations like the Cocoa Abrabopa Association (CAA) established in 1998 in Ghana, credit is becoming more accessible to producers.

The current organic producers, who are constrained to do so because of a lack of microfinance opportunities to buy conventional inputs (fertilizer, fungicide, etc.), would probably switch to conventional if financing for said inputs became available, say through a microfinance program. Thus, an unintended impact of a microfinance program might be to lead to lower levels of current organic production.”

Authors: Mahrizal, L., et al.
Affiliations: Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness, University of Arkansas
Title: Necessary price premiums to incentivize Ghanaian organic cocoa production: a phased, orchard management approach
Source: HortScience 47(11)1617-1624. 2012.